New Assessment Enrollment

Diplomates who successfully recertified in 2017 or before are not required to take their first Continuous Certification Assessment until the year their certificate expires.
ALL diplomates, regardless of certificate expiration date, are required to meet the other requirements of the Continuous Certification Program, including CME, professionalism requirements, and participation in a registry or quality assessment program. Please see our Program Requirements for more information.

Enrollment Timeline

Once a diplomate registers for an assessment, they are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program.

General Surgery
      Current Diplomates
    • New Assessment: Diplomates with general surgery certificates expiring this year may use the new assessment process to continue their certification. The assessment must be taken every other year.
    • Traditional Format: All diplomates whose certificates expire in 2018 must enroll in the Continuous Certification Program to remain certified. Both the new assessment (40 questions at home) and the traditional exam (200 questions at a Pearson Center) are available in 2018. BOTH mark an entrance into the Continuous Certification process, in which CME, participation in a registry or quality assessment program, and licensing information must be up to date, as well as an assessment every other year. Opting for the traditional exam does not lead to a 10-year certificate.
    • Newly Certified Diplomates
    • Diplomates who become certified in general surgery in the 2018-2019 academic year or thereafter will be automatically enrolled in the new assessment process. These diplomates will begin taking the assessment two years after the academic year in which they became certified. For example, if someone becomes certified in the 2018-2019 academic year, they will take their first assessment in the fall 2021.
    • Lapsed Diplomates
    • As part of the new assessment process, we are inviting surgeons whose general surgery certificates have lapsed to regain their certification through a special pathway. This pathway will only be available for three years: 2018, 2019 and 2020. See our lapsed certificate policy for more details.
Other Specialties
      New Assessment Coming in 2019
    • A similar 40-question, online, open-book assessment will available as of 2019 for vascular surgery, pediatric surgery and surgical critical care. Diplomates with certificates expiring in 2018 will need to pass the recertification exam to continue their certification; however the certificate will be valid for 10 years. All other diplomates are encouraged to wait until the new assessment is available. If they opt to take the 2018 exam, they will still be required to begin the new assessment process by 2020.

Registering for the Assessment

  • Registration for the 2018 general surgery assessment will be open from Aug. 1 to Nov. 5. The assessment will be available from Sept. 7 to Nov. 5.
  • To register for the new assessment, diplomates must be up to date on meeting the requirements of the ABS Continuous Certification Program. This now includes submitting a 12-month operative log every 10 years and reference forms every five years. We will keep you informed of your status; you may also check your status anytime by going to My Continuous Certification.
  • Diplomates who are currently certified but not meeting Continuous Certification requirements will need to re-enter to register for the new assessment. See our re-entry policy for details.
  • You will have two weeks to complete the assessment once you begin, with the opportunity to save your progress and continue at a later time during this two-week period. The last day to begin the assessment to ensure that you have the full two weeks is Monday, Oct. 22, 2018.
  • Please note: Your personal two-week time limit will start the moment you click the “Begin” button on the ABS portal – do not click it until you are absolutely sure that you are ready to begin your assessment.
  • For more information about preparing for and taking the General Surgery Assessment, please see our General Surgery Assessment page.

Certification Status

  • Once participating in the new assessment process, a diplomate's certification status will be contingent on passing the assessment every other year, as well as meeting the other program requirements. This new paradigm is intended to more accurately reflect the rapid changes in surgical knowledge and practice and better promote high-quality patient care.
  • However, failing the assessment in a given year will not immediately affect certification status. Diplomates will be able to retake the assessment the following year (grace year) if necessary.

Grace Year

  • We encourage diplomates to do their best on all assessment attempts. Diplomates who score at least 40% on their first assessment attempt will receive a second attempt. If a diplomate fails to attain 40% on their first attempt or 80% by their second attempt, a grace year will be provided in the year following the assessment. Two opportunities are offered to answer a question correctly, so diplomates have four attempts to pass an open-book assessment before loss of certification status.
  • Diplomates who are enrolled in the Continuous Certification Program and are not up to date with all program requirements at the time assessment registration will be unable to take the assessment until those requirements have been fulfilled. Grace years are provided to diplomates who do not pass an assessment when it is due, whether they do not register for the assessment or they are unsuccessful in their assessment attempt.
  • Regaining certification after the grace year will then require successful completion of a secure exam. Diplomates participating in the lapsed pathway will be eligible for a grace year after five years.

Annual Fee

  • Once diplomates enroll, an annual fee will be required. The annual fee reflects the ongoing development of all aspects of the Continuous Certification Program, including diplomate status tracking, public reporting of diplomate status, self-service features like the CME Repository, and the new modular assessment process, which will require hundreds of new questions with explanations and references, as well as a new online delivery platform. The current annual fee is $285, and covers all general program participation, including one assessment every other year.

Reduction in CME and Self-Assessment

  • Once diplomates pass the new assessment, the current Continuous Certification requirement of 150 Category 1 CME credits over five years, with at least 50 including self-assessment, will change to 125 CME credits with no self-assessment required.

Issuance of Certificates

  • Upon passing the new assessment, diplomates will be issued a new certificate without an expiration date. A diplomate's current certification status will then be verified using the Check a Certification feature on the ABS website.

Refer also to our Video & PDF Overview and New Assessment FAQs. For specific inquiries, please contact the Continuous Certification coordinator.